July 18, 2008

Be Our Guest / Mike Nygra

Celebrating the gift of ‘Humanae Vitae’ 40 years later

In 419, St. Augustine wrote in Marriage and Concupiscence, “I am supposing, then, although you are not lying [with your wife] for the sake of procreating offspring, you are not for the sake of lust obstructing their procreation by an evil prayer or an evil deed. Those who do this, although they are called husband and wife, are not; nor do they retain any reality of marriage, but with a respectable name cover a shame. Sometimes this lustful cruelty, or cruel lust, comes to this, that they even procure poisons of sterility.”

From its very inception, the Catholic Church has taught that contraception is an evil.

So when, on July 25, 1968, Pope Paul VI released his encyclical “Humanae Vitae” (“On the Regulation of Birth”), outlining the negative consequences that would come from the invention of “the pill,” he was not teaching anything new.

And yet many, both within and outside of the Church, reacted with anger to this encyclical, claiming that what the pope was predicting would never happen. So what did this Holy Father see resulting from the widespread use of “the pill”?

He predicted that four consequences would result:

1. “… how wide and easy a road would thus be opened up towards conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality.”

Since the introduction of the pill, the divorce rate in the United States has skyrocketed, reaching a level of 54.8 percent in 2005. Television, music and printed media are saturated with sexually explicit content and a general disrespect for the dignity of the human person.

2. “… the man, growing used to the employment of anti-conceptive practices, may finally lose respect for the woman and, no longer caring for her physical and psychological equilibrium, may come to the point of considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment, and no longer as his respected and beloved companion.”

Internet pornography, the number one income generator on the Internet, is already a $1 billion-a-year industry and growing. One in four men seek sexual fulfillment online. Jokes degrading to women and human sexuality are commonly told without a thought given to their immorality.

3. “… a dangerous weapon would thus be placed in the hands of those public authorities who take no heed of moral exigencies.”

In China, forced sterilization and forced abortion are official government policy.

4. Men would disregard the “limits which no man, whether a private individual or one invested with authority, may licitly surpass.”

Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade in 1973, nearly 50 million American children have been murdered in their mother’s wombs through legalized abortion.

These developments have clearly shown that Pope Paul VI’s predictions were accurate, some say prophetic.

Artificial birth control opposes the dignity of man, and as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “ ‘… every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible’ is intrinsically evil” (#2370).

The St. Malachy Pro-Life Committee invites all parishioners to read “Humanae Vitae,” which can be accessed at the Vatican Web site at www.vatican.va.

An alternative to artificial contraception is Natural Family Planning (NFP), which, when performed correctly, has an almost 100 percent success rate in spacing pregnancies. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is recognizing July 20-26 as National Natural Family Planning Awareness Week.

Importantly, NFP is done in accordance with Church teaching. Information can be obtained from the Couple to Couple League International (www.ccli.org).

(Mike Nygra is a member of St. Malachy Parish in Brownsburg. A Mass for Chastity will be celebrated at 7 p.m. on July 25, the 40th anniversary of the promulgation of “Humanae Vitae,” at St. Luke the Evangelist Church, 7575 Holliday Drive E,. in Indianapolis.)

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